Hi guys, Jim, Tom,
sorry to be on the defensive side here. I may not be an expert like Tom in winter E-driving, but I do have some experience in these circumstances (for a flatlander), also because I used to be an avid offroader, accustomed to deep mud (with ice underneath) and snowy conditions (picture Finland in winter).
I try to state two points, on the first we agree:
a bit of a moot point (duh!): winter tires are a must. Jim, you are correct that in Germany and Austria, winter tires with good thread are compulsory. Mind the thread: anything with less than 4mm is considered a summer tire in Austria! The fines for inappropriate rubber are *really* hefty (I think up to 50.000 euros), liability woes aside. When we were caught out in the snow (point 1), it was a freak snowdrift in june that surprised even the Swiss... It made for an interesting experience: the Ecopia summer tires, unlike Tom's 19 inchers in our case, perform terribly on snowy slopes. No brainer point made....
Over to the second point:
I agree with you that under normal winter driving conditions, the cars set-up is very good. It is easy to feather the E-throttle and control regen to drive very very 'softly', thereby never loosing traction. Also, DSC works perfectly here. But the case I made is that there has been a situation where I wanted to go so slow that normal driving parameters no longer seemed to count. The problem for me was not caused by loss of traction per se, but by the inability to maintain a slow, steady pace to the next hairpin. Upon lifting but a hair of the throttle, the back wheels wanted to lock-up. The descent was fairly long, so I had ample time to try to find the sweet spot of the throttle, but I wasn't able to find it. In our 4x4, we would have used the diesels engine braking in low-range first or second gear to keep the speed in the neighbourhood of a brisk walking pace. Granted, this was a situation where our 4x4 would have been better suited, but has anyone tried this with their i3? Recap: 3 km (2 mi) downhill, new snow, ~10% incline, hairpins barely wide enough even for i3's turning circle, winter tires.
BTW: switching to neutral on one occasion was a violation against my offroad lesson #1: never ever drive but one foot not in gear. I've seen interesting and potentially devastating accidents happen, for instance when one of our groups pickup popped out of gear on a 200 meter descent of ~25% in the Belgian forests...